Imagine using online banking – without the bank. Bitcoin is a digital currency that was created five years ago.

It runs entirely on the sways of the free market: no government or banking institution is backing it. It’s starting to make more inroads into the mainstream: A local university recently accepted a donation in bitcoin, Washington’s marijuana businesses have been using it due to banking restrictions, and this week one of the top bitcoin exchanges closed due to reported theft.

Forbes reporter Kashmir Hill spent a week living entirely on bitcoin. She moved into a hostel that accepted bitcoin, found a company that would rent her a bike because she couldn’t use public transportation, and depended on a food delivery company to eat.

She joked that she lost five pounds in that week from the biking, walking and lack of many food options: a regimen she termed “The Bitcoin Diet.” She spoke with KUOW’s Ross Reynolds on The Record to explain what bitcoin is and why it’s front and center in the news.

On Tuesday, MtGox went dark. The online bitcoin exchange was one of the first arrivers onto the bitcoin scene according to Hill. Read more from…

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